How do you ship certified US Post

This is how the shipping and delivery of groceries work

Whether it's a snack package from mom, a delicious birthday cake to friends or even a complete weekly shop from the Internet - the shipping of groceries is increasing steadily. There are important points to consider when shipping and receiving.

Table of Contents

  1. Pack and send food safely
    1. Durable foods
    2. Chilled / perishable foods
    3. Liquids / beverages
  2. Receiving food shipments
  3. Send groceries to the USA

1) Pack and send food safely

Such a package has to withstand a lot on its journey to the recipient - it is thrown, turned and shaken. The packaging must therefore offer sufficient protection. In the next sections you will learn which packaging is best for which food.


1.1) Non-perishable foods

The dispatch of food that is well packaged or insensitive from the outset, such as wine gums or canned food, is unproblematic. Make sure that the products in the package do not have too much freedom of movement. If necessary, protect the products from moisture by wrapping the food in a plastic bag.

Be careful with heat-sensitive foods
Care should be taken when sending chocolate and pralines: high outside temperatures cause the products in the package to melt. So if you want to send some chocolate bunnies on the trip just in time for Easter, check the weather forecast to ensure that the temperature does not rise above 25 degrees during shipping.

Transporting chocolate is not advisable even when the outside temperature is frosty. Because with strong temperature fluctuations (e.g. when a package is loaded from a warm warehouse into a cold delivery vehicle), fat bloom or sugar bloom can form. The surface of the chocolate becomes either matt white (fat bloom) or rough (sugar bloom). It doesn't tarnish the chocolate taste, but it looks ugly.

Interesting: Even online supermarkets that ship in parcels reduce their range of chocolate noticeably in summer in order to avoid problems with high outside temperatures - and the resulting dissatisfied customers.

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1.2) Chilled / perishable foods

The shipping of products that have to be refrigerated, such as fresh milk or meat, is excluded from almost all parcel service providers for private customers. This results from the general terms and conditions.

GLS (AGB, § 3.1) states that "perishable and temperature-sensitive goods" are excluded from transport by GLS. In the terms and conditions of DHL it is somewhat incomprehensible that "Shipments that ... require special facilities (e.g. for temperature-controlled goods) ..." are excluded from shipping. The term "temperature-controlled goods" refers to packages that need to be cooled (or kept warm) during transport so that the contents do not spoil.

Perishable goods are also excluded from carriage in the DPD General Terms and Conditions (Section 5) and in the Hermes General Terms and Conditions (Section 4).

DPD offers corporate customers the special DPD Food service. For a surcharge, DPD gives priority to such food parcels so that they arrive fresh at the recipient.

With UPS (General Terms and Conditions Paragraph 3) it is regulated slightly differently: Food is not generally excluded from shipping by UPS, but is "accepted for transport at the risk of the sender".

The exclusion of transport is mainly due to the question of liability, because food could spoil on the way, but also to prevent pest infestation in the parcel centers and the risk of infection by germs.

The information from the DHL hotline was somewhat more differentiated: as a private customer, you could definitely send fresh groceries, because the packages would not be checked when they were posted. However, DHL would not be liable if the products spoiled en route. In addition, the sender could be liable to DHL if a food package causes damage in the sorting systems. For example, from leaking liquids / drinks or yoghurt pots that ferment and then burst.

Other parcel services also do not check the contents of parcels and therefore cannot determine whether you are sending food. Parcels sent abroad are excluded. Due to aviation security regulations, these are x-rayed, e.g. to find out potentially explosive products such as aerosol cans and batteries.

Suitable packaging for refrigerated shipping
As the sender, it is important to ensure that the appropriate refrigerated transport packaging is used. Styrofoam boxes, which can be purchased on eBay or Amazon, for example, are best suited for this. You then pack the styrofoam box in a conventional box.

Although these styrofoam boxes are not explicitly made for shipping parcels, they are best suited as they keep the temperature low in combination with cooling elements (e.g. ice packs) for up to 2 days.



A simple insulating cooler bag is sufficient for smaller shipments. In this you carefully wrap the food and the cooling material and make sure that the bag is airtight. Then put the bag in a suitable cardboard box.

Use suitable cooling material

To keep the temperature in the package as low as possible, you should add ice packs to the food. Important: Do not use ice cubes for cooling, as these melt and, in the worst case, soak the package and cause it to leak. You should also not fill ice packs right up to the edge, as the water expands when it melts and can otherwise burst the ice pack.

Alternatively, you can also use ice packs made from dry ice (see the special Paketda dry ice guide), which you can buy, for example, from dry ice shop.de.

► DHL changes the dry ice regulations as of July 1st, 2019. The dispatch of dry ice with "DHL Parcel National" is only allowed for business customers who conclude a special additional agreement with DHL.

When shipping chilled products, it is advisable to choose express delivery so that the food arrives at the recipient within 24 hours. Avoid sending the products on Fridays or Saturdays so that your package does not get left in the package center over the weekend. Note on shipping with DHL Express: Express parcels are only delivered on Saturdays at an additional cost. The regular delivery by DHL Express is Monday to Friday.

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1.3) Liquids / beverages

When shipping liquids, beverages and other food that could leak, you should make sure that the packaging is sturdy. Here, for example, certified bottle boxes are available, which we have presented and tested in our special guide to bottle shipping.

Fill all cavities in the package with corrugated cardboard, bubble wrap or other filling material (see picture) so that the individual products in the package cannot move as much as possible. However, you should not completely fill the cavities, otherwise shocks will be passed on directly to the fragile food during transport.

If you use unsuitable packaging and, for example, break bottles, this can damage the sorting systems in the parcel center and possibly also surrounding parcels from other customers. As the sender, you can be held liable for any negligence by the parcel service provider. You are on the safe side when you use certified packaging. You can recognize them, for example, by a corresponding imprint on the box

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2.) Receive food shipments

The purchase of groceries on the Internet has increased significantly in recent years. The main thing here is: Take perishable products out of the package as quickly as possible after receipt and put them in the refrigerator so that the cold chain is not interrupted.

Some providers use their own refrigerated vehicles for delivery, including the delivery services from REWE and real, -, but also specialists such as Deutsche See. Other retailers, especially those who ship across Germany, rely on parcel service providers for delivery. These include, for example, the online supermarket Allyouneed Fresh, which once belonged to the DHL Group and was sold to a new owner in 2018.

The shipping of perishable and refrigerated foods as parcels has created new logistical challenges. DHL developed the so-called Multibox especially for the DHL courier service. The Multibox is a reusable box for food deliveries (see DHL explanatory video here on Youtube).

This gives an overview of online supermarkets and their forms of delivery Comparison portal Simplora.

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Order from an online supermarket / online grocery store

Obligation to cooperate with the delivery of fresh food
If you order fresh groceries on the Internet, in most cases you have the option of specifying a preferred delivery date.

If you receive your products in a damaged or spoiled condition, the online supermarket has not fulfilled its contractual obligations and owes you a refund.

However, if you were not at home at the agreed delivery time and the package could not be delivered as a result, the situation shifts: Now you have to prove that the goods have already been spoiled, e.g. because the best-before date had expired a day before . In many cases, however, the online supermarkets prove to be very accommodating, unless you have missed multiple delivery dates.

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Fresh groceries can only be delivered to neighbors with authorization

Fresh groceries should not be delivered to neighbors unless you have expressly given your neighbor a power of attorney to do so, e.g. via a comment field at the online supermarket.

Please inform your neighbors that there are fresh or refrigerated products in the shipment. He should not store the package right next to the heater and not in direct sunlight. Pick up the parcel from your neighbor as quickly as possible and put the goods in the refrigerator.

If you are not at home when delivering groceries, the supplier is unlikely to deliver the goods to neighbors without express instructions (power of attorney). Many online supermarkets prohibit their couriers from making unsolicited neighborhood deliveries. If your shipment ends up with the neighbors and spoils the food delivered, you hold the online supermarket liable. The seller is liable to private customers for proper delivery. As a private customer, you do not need to deal directly with the parcel service.

Attention exception: if you have given the parcel service a parking permit, the courier may park your shipments at an agreed location (e.g. in the garage) when you are absent. In this case, you as the customer bear the risk that the stored goods will spoil.

No 14-day right of withdrawal for fresh food
Due to the risk of perishability of the delivered goods, there is a statutory exception to the right of withdrawal in the mail order business for fresh food. However, if you receive the goods in a damaged or spoiled condition, you are of course liable regardless of the dealer's right of withdrawal.

Return of empties
Every retailer - offline or online - who brings deposit products (e.g. PET bottles) into circulation is obliged to take them back again.

Of course, online supermarkets must also offer options for returning empty containers. Depending on the retailer, it is possible to return empties directly to the deliverer making the delivery (e.g. with the REWE delivery service) or to send the empties back in the parcel via free returns. As an online buyer, you can of course also hand in your empties at local beverage retailers or in traditional supermarkets.

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3.) Send groceries to the USA

Anyone who has relatives or acquaintances who live in the USA or study there, for example, can make them really happy with food from Germany. Often they are German classics such as bread, chocolate or cake mixes.

Food shipping to the USA is strictly controlled by American customs. Private individuals do not need to worry about too much paperwork. If you observe the following points, your grocery package will arrive safely in America:

  • Do not send any meat to the USA. Not even dried, canned or hidden in Bifi-Roll.
  • All fresh foods are also excluded from import.
  • Do not ship alcohol, alcoholic sweets, or perfumes containing alcohol to the United States. (Unless the entire shipment has a retail price of less than $ 5, then it would be duty free.)
  • Sweets, spices, coffee, tea, baked goods and hard cheese are allowed in the manufacturer's original packaging.
  • If you want to send home-baked goods (e.g. biscuits or a Christmas stollen), this is also allowed. However, pay attention to the correct description of the goods (see notes below). So that the powdered sugar of the Christstollen is not confused with drugs, the following note should be made: "The icing of the Stollen-cake consists of pure powdered sugar and butter."
  • Surprise eggs have been banned in the US since 1938 and are not allowed to be imported. The ban generally applies to confectionery products that contain an "inedible object".
  • Problems often arise with dietary supplements. The experience of Paketda users shows that harmless food supplements have been rejected by US customs. Either because of a misunderstanding or because certain ingredients are classified differently in the USA than in Europe.
  • When shipping beverages, special regulations must be observed (see this IHK leaflet). Avoid glass bottles.

If you are sending a private package from Germany to a private person in the USA, the total value of the goods must not exceed $ 100. Otherwise customs duties will be due, which will be charged to the recipient. There is also no point in dividing the goods, e.g. into two packages of $ 100 each, because customs will notice.

The correct declaration is particularly important, i.e. the description of the package contents and the value of the goods. To do this, use a customs sticker of the type CN22 or CN23. You will find help in filling out the forms in our guide to customs declaration.

  • The "large" customs declaration CN 23 is required for parcels
  • The "small" customs declaration CN 22 is necessary for parcels

The customs declaration must be attached to the address side of the package. Either glued on or in a transparent adhesive pouch.

Tip: Use the online purchase of parcel stamps on the DHL website. You will then be asked for all the necessary customs information and a customs declaration will be automatically printed out. Alternatively, you can get the stickers for the customs declaration at every post office.

Important: Each individual product must be precisely identified in the customs declaration with name and value. Don't just write "Gift package, $ 10" but instead, for example, "100g Milka chocolate, $ 3" ​​or "100g home-made cookies, $ 4".

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Note & further information

All information in this guide was researched in 07/2018 to the best of our knowledge, but is without guarantee. Use the following sources, for example, to find out more and to keep yourself up to date.


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Your questions about grocery shipping